Friday, November 11, 2011


I think I can do anything.  I look at a project and say to myself "That's totally doable.  Even if I run across a snag or two, how bad can it be?"

Now, my house was built in 1914.  I am convinced that for the first 50 years of it's existence (and most houses of it's era) all the work done on it was done by the well meaning but somewhat inept homeowner.  That's just the way it was back then.  In some houses (mine included) this trend seems to have been carried on throughout it's entire lifetime.  Electricity wired with no logic, though fully functional and seemingly safe.  Plumbing that snakes its way around in bizarrely random patterns.  There is no project that doesn't encounter a snag, no matter how hard you try to anticipate the problems.

So when I volunteered to do my friend's sink plumbing, I thought "How bad can it be?"  I looked at it, tried to imagine all the possible problems, though, though and thought again.  ANd then jumped in.

Her hot tap had been dripping, then running, for a while.  First order of business was to put in a hot water shutoff.  She had got compression fittings rather than solder on ones, not my fav but I thought hey, why not branch out?  Besides the fact that I had a hell of a time getting them to not drip, it seemed relatively painless. (I suspect they are still leaking a tiny bit, but WAY less than before and hopefully snugging them up will fix that.  Hopefully.)

Then we tackled the cold side.  Now, I had previously noted that the old galvanized iron pipe had been replaced from the kitchen upstairs, in a fully accessible place to attach new copper to the basement.  Peachy, right?  What I failed to consider was that A.  removing the ancient sink fitting from the stupid galvanized pipe would be, to put it mildly, a fucking nightmare and B. that getting to old supply lines out would be just as bad.  So we run the new copper supply line from the basement, cut the copper from the old pipe and all of a sudden I realize we can't get the old pipe out and thus can't get the new stuff in. 


After some serious contemplation, liberal application of WD40 and swear words, and a halfhearted attempt with the pipe wrench (I loves me a pipe wrench.  Sexiest tool ever.) I abandoned hope of removing it that night. (Did I mention we started about 6 pm?  Ha.)  So... how to get the plumbing at least functional for the next week or so?  Paper plates and takeout is fine but you gotta do da business somewhere.

So we decided to bypass the sink for now since the old pipe was talking up all the room needed to run the new supply line and shutoff and just reconnect the cold water lines with new copper pipe.  Then when we figured out how to get the old pipe out we could just add in the sink supply line.  Sure.

Except that the lines in the basement wouldn't drain properly so we had a bitch of a time getting them to seal.  M had left for derby practice leaving poor C with me to help.  I am eternally grateful to her for her patience with my ineptness, and her excellent, thoughtful suggestions.

To make a long story short, we tried three (four?) separate times to get the stupid lines to seal - in various configurations, adding in little drains, over and over.  Every time we turned the water on there was a leak.  The last time, with our last set of connectors (don't ask how many we wasted) as I dried out the pipe with the torch I said let's just shove some more flux in here and see if that helps.  And it did.  It fucking did.

It sounds so anticlimactic as I write it, but it was 10:30, we had no more fittings and no prospect of getting the water back on if this didn't work.  We were elated.  Overjoyed. 

Now we just gotta figure out how to get the stupid galvanized pipe out.  The rest will be easy. 

Stop laughing.

(Oh, and it leaked in a different spot and I had to go back and fix it, sick child in tow.  Not fun.  There may have been a hissy-fit involved.)

1 comment:

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